Cultural Network

Great Platte River Road Archway

The Archway near Kearney Nebraska Spans Interstate 80 at Exit 275
The Archway’s historical exhibit documents nearly 200 years of the history of our region, our state and, our country.

Spanning I-80 at Exit 275, the Archway in Kearney, Nebraska, brings American history to life. Since prehistoric times, the path along the Platte River through Nebraska, once known as the Great Platte River Road, has served as a migratory route across the continent. From the Oregon Trail era to today, the Archway’s family friendly exhibit tells the story of the adventurers who followed the trail and helped to build America. In our historical exhibit, you’ll walk with the pioneers over the Oregon Trail. Watch a rider switch horses at a Pony Express station. Hear Mark Twain’s account of a cross-country stagecoach ride. Relive the driving of the Golden Spike that united the nation’s railroads. And, visit a travelers’ campground on “America’s Main Street,” the Lincoln Highway. You can spend as little as an hour or a whole afternoon at the Archway.

The Archway’s historical exhibit documents nearly 200 years of the history of our region, our state and, our country. The artfully produced display shares our story with visitors from all over the world. And, the compelling presentation inspires today’s travelers to participate in the continuing adventure of the building of America.

The Archway production was originally conceived by Frank Morrison, the 31st Governor of Nebraska, who served from 1961-1967. It was his vision to create an enduring monument to the pioneers who had followed the Great Platte River Road through Nebraska and helped it toward statehood.

The Archway opened in the year 2000 with a historical exhibit that features full-sized figures cast from life in elaborately painted and decorated settings. Since that time, well over one million visitors have taken the historical tour that brings the story of the adventurers who followed the Great Platte River Road to life.

Archway visitors enjoy public art on the Archway campus including “A Narrow Escape,” a bronze sculpture depicting the true story of the Martin brothers by David L. Biehl, a sculptor from Lexington, Nebraska. The sculpture was donated to the Archway by the Fred Bosselman Family. And a bison, sculpted by Gary Ginther from Cambridge, Nebraska, and provided to the Archway by Ted’s Montana Grill.

Site-specific murals throughout the historical exhibit include the panoramic Oregon Trail mural that covers the walls and ceiling of the cavernous exhibition space and shows the sun beginning to set just above western Nebraska’s famous Chimney Rock. The Oregon Trail mural and a prairie gravesite scene were created by artist Rob Evans of Sherborn, Massachusetts.

The Archway’s Yellowstone National Park mural by Paul Barker of Evanston, Illinois, provides a dramatic backdrop for the Cadillac convertible that is part of the I-80 exhibit. The Roadside Café, a mural by Kenneth B. Gore, provides an overview of the eras and events detailed throughout the Archway’s historical exhibit. Portraits of many of the people who worked on the Archway project are included among the characters who populate this sweeping mural that serves as the culmination of the tour.

Written by Mark Foradori and Kate Benzel
* Chuck Peek reading Carl Sandburg’s “Buffalo Dusk”
* Photos from Archway archives

Oration of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Buffalo Dusk” by Chuck Peek.

Categories: Art

Map: Kearney Places of Interest Great Platte River Road Archway can be found on this Map.

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